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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

AWC's Big Bash: Communicating Women Bestow Honors on Women Communicators

A double dose of Newsmakers mega-kudos to Beth Farnsworth and Kymberlee Weil, honored on Friday by the Association of Women in Communications during an emotional program stocked with laughs and a few tears,

The hottest non-profit ticket of the weekend, the AWC's 12th annual Women of Achievement awards celebration drew more than 150 authors, broadcasters, entrepreneurs, journalists, marketers, messaging coaches, poets, PR practitioners, social and other media type professionals, along with assorted academics, students and at least six men (we name no names) for an El Paseo luncheon featuring salmon salad, creme brulee and a cash bar.

"Wussup ladies...and...fellas," whooped Starshine Roshell, mistress of ceremonies and star columnist for the Indy. "It's Friday - let's communicate some stuff!"

Founded in 1909, AWC is a national educational and networking non-profit that promotes the advancement of women in, um, communications industries. Amazing but true: Santa Barbara's is the only chapter in California. You could look it up.

The two honorees were feted as shining examples of communications professionals who are "making a difference with stories that matter."

Farnsworth, who needs no introduction to loyal Newsmakers readers, was hailed for her work as an Emmy-award winning veteran reporter and co-anchor of KEYT's prime time newscasts, which she hosts with investigative hubby C.J. Ward, who introduced her.

Weil, an entrepreneur who started "Strategic Samurai," a company focused on "short-form high-stakes communications," is a widely-respected communications coach, specializing in TED Talks. By all accounts, she's also a helluva softball pitcher.

In the spirit of short form, if not high stakes, communications, here's a quick look at the highlights from the official notes of Mr. Cranky Pants, which were somewhat smudged when some clutz (we name no names) spilled iced tea on them:

Carolyn Jabs, AWC president and successful author ("The Heirloom Gardener," "Growing Up Online," "Cooperative Wisdom") welcomed the crowd by paying tribute to working journalists in the Enemies of the People Age: "These are difficult times," she said. "It really matters what you do."

Mayor Cathy Murillo admitted the city "messed up" on getting the requisite awards certificate prepared in time, but saved the day by picking up a couple boxes of See's candy, which she compared to the honorees: "sweet or salty, packed with energy and when they come into a room, people are happy." To collective astonishment, Alcaldesa actually won two raffle prizes, as announced by the indefatigable Lisa Osborn of KCSB, after springing for a whole string of tickets.

Supervisor Gregg Hart, representing half the human race, presented a certificate "on behalf of the (board's) 2nd District," which raised the intriguing question of why the other four supes apparently hate journalists.

Kimberlee delivered the equivalent of a world-class TED talk, recounting the powerful story of how, after winning a four-year ride to the University of Hawaii for her softball prowess, she was plowed into by a cement truck that ran a red light as she returned from dinner on her scooter one night; the accident inflicted a severe head injury, the loss or her senses of smell and taste and neurological damage that required long and painful rehabilitation. "How am I going to get back to that mound," was the challenge she said drove her throughout, explaining that she succeeded by "shifting the story" and refusing to "let the story play out" of herself as victim.

Beth came to the stage in tears, after C.J. choked up in introducing her, identifying himself as "Mr. Beth Farnsworth." She offered a greatest hits tour of working her way up from an unpaid intern in San Diego, at a time when women were not taken seriously as journalists (a status which, at times, required "the use of falsies, not to be confused with pasties," she noted); serving as a newswriter for an air head newsreader who asked her not to include any "Jewish words" in a piece about Yom Kippur; and confessing that, yes, she and her co-anchor do coordinate outfits and colors. "We tell stories in a minute and a half," she said of the challenges of TV reporting, "unless you're John Palmenteri."

Special mention to former city Poet Laureate Perie Longo, a past AWC award recipient who annually is charged with composing a free verse ode to the new winners, and does a heckuva job of it (she somehow managed to weave in the time Farnsworth's Twitter feed exploded after she showed up on set one night with a new haircut). Perie noted that, "oftentimes, when I'm introduced" with her professional title -- "Poetry Therapist" -- "I clear a room."

There were no injuries.


Images: The winners holding the swag delivered by the mayor; Emcee Starshine; President of the Board; Mayor Cathy explains why she brought sweets instead of another boring certificate; Smilin' Gregg and Smilin' Beth; Kimberlee telling her own story; C.J. introducing his co-anchor; a portion of Farnsworth's inaugural address; the Poetry Therapist at work.

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